Austin

Spring Break for Nerds

A skeptic learns the secret to South by Southwest’s success

Every year, the tech elite and their legions of hangers-on gather in Austin to binge-network, binge-drink and "change the world." It is glorious. It is absurd. It is South by Southwest.

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Nixon's suburban strategy isn't going to cut it for Republicans in 2016.

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Liberals worry a lot about rigged voting machines. They should probably worry more about more mundane ways to skew the election outcome.

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What explains the wide range of economic growth and prosperity across U.S. regions, and why is it so hard for struggling metro areas to reverse multi-decade trends? These are the questions that urban economist Enrico Moretti addresses in The New Geography of Jobs. In his vision, innovative workers and companies create prosperity that flows broadly, but these gains are mostly metropolitan in scale, meaning that geography substantially determines economic vitality. To start, the book offers a hopeful interpretation of technological change and globalization.

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The Visionary

If you were to pinpoint one moment when it looked as if things just might work out for Salam Fayyad, the Palestinian prime minister, it would probably be February 2, 2010. That day, Fayyad addressed the annual Herzliya Conference, a sort of Israeli version of Davos featuring high-powered policymakers and intellectuals. It is not a typical speaking venue for Palestinians; yet Fayyad was warmly received.

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The Operator

Before 2013 begins, catch up on the best of 2012. From now until the New Year, we will be re-posting some of The New Republic’s most thought-provoking pieces of the year. Enjoy. In early 2010, Karl Rove convened a group of businessmen for lunch at a private club in Dallas. The guests included some of the richest and most influential people in Texas. T. Boone Pickens, the corporate raider from Amarillo, was there, as was Harlan Crow, the prodigal son of Trammell Crow, the most prominent real estate developer in the country in his day.

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Last month came word that Apple, which has $100 billion cash in hand and last year gave its CEO a stock award worth $634 million, received a $35.5 million incentive package to expand its operations in Austin. Of that sum, $21 million was being provided by the Texas Enterprise Fund, which was created by Gov. Rick Perry back in 2003 using money from the state’s rainy fund, and which has doled out more than $440 million to companies that promise to set up shop in Texas.

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A more than 20-year old program, long underutilized, is slowly emerging as a potential lifeline for regional economic development for some metro areas and states at a time when traditional financing streams are running dry. The EB-5 Immigrant Investor Visa program—created as part of the Immigration Act of 1990—allocates 10,000 green cards per year to foreigners who invest $1 million (or $500,000 in a targeted employment area) in qualifying U.S.

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Rick Perry’s departure from the Republican presidential primary was, by any standard, the result of a walloping. Simply put, he was terrible at running for president. In fact, I probably owe the readers of TNR a mea culpa. Back in September, I wrote that Rick Perry probably wouldn’t be a catastrophic debater. Sorry, guys. Perhaps I didn’t consider just how much the local view of Perry—I’ve been following Perry from Austin for years—would fail to translate to the wider, and in some ways stranger, landscape of national politics.

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The Perry-Newt Nexus

I don't have much in the way of a grand valedictory for Rick Perry as he returns to Austin to prepare for Texas' coming war with Turkey. I already penned (Romney word!) my Perry farewell out in Iowa, when the aura of defeat was all over him. But I will offer a thought on Perry's decision to throw his parting endorsement Newt Gingrich's way.

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